The Call Box

The Call Box: More Sully Stories

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Here is an addition to Ed’s first post about Sully (posted here on June 1, 2016).


Sitting across from him in a cafeteria watching while he poured dressing on his salad, then discovered he had not removed the plastic wrap. I watched him mop up the dressing and squeeze it onto his salad never once giving any indication he had done anything wrong.


Interviewing witnesses on the street and later discovering that Sully had written notes on the white roof of a police car. Yes, we found the car.


Walking out of the room and leaving a man seated across from me at the squad table. When the man begins applauding, I asked, “What the devil are you doing?”


“That Detective [Sully] told me to keep clapping while he was gone so he would know I wasn’t stealing anything.”

God, I wish that had been my line.


When he gave directions to “turn right when you see the sign for the sheriff’s station” and the sign turned out to be the Shalom Jewish Cemetery with the six-pointed star. Think about it.


The day he poked me in the ribs with a half-eaten Milky Way candy bar to get my attention. I was wearing a suit and we both looked at the glob of chocolate on my jacket, we both looked at the candy bar and then as a small child would, he put the candy behind him, looked off into space and said, “What?” I couldn’t help but laugh.


His name was RICHARD L. SULLIVAN and he is gone now. I loved him and miss him. He was my best friend.


We have all heard of the celebrity doing something with his five hundred best friends. Not likely. Best means just that: the best.


How do I define “best friend?” He shows up at 3 am with a shovel and a bag of quick lime when you have phoned him to tell him you killed someone. Sully was my best friend.


I will leave you to wonder………………


The Call Box

The Call Box: Tom Scebbi

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

In May 1956, I graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy along with 33 fellow recruits. Some of the lucky ones went straight to patrol, some went to P.I.C. (pedestrian intersection control). White hat, white gloves, directing traffic in downtown LA, smog and all (ugh) and the rest of us went to the main jail. Now, this was nothing like the large county jail. This was almost a non-jail jail for misdemeanor prisoners only awaiting court. Everyone was moved quickly through. Prisoners from all over LA.


And here was I. Late one night talking to a classmate also working there who told me he wanted to get married but his girlfriend was concerned about his safety. She worried that as a police officer he might get shot. With all the wisdom that comes with being twenty-one years old and having two to three months on the job, I told my friend, Ramon Espinoza, “Come on, Ray. Be logical. With all the thousands of cops on the job, what are your chances of even being shot at no less wounded or killed?”


This was in the summer of 1956, he later married the girl and had a son Ramon Jr. We both managed to get transferred out and by June 20, 1958, I was working vice and Ray was in a radio car in Wilshire Division working nights. His partner was a 24-year-old officer named Tom Scebbi, a good friend of mine. We had lunch at the academy the day before.



On that night they stopped a pedestrian at 3rd and Kingsley who just happened to be an ex-con carrying a stolen pistol. With which he shot both officers. Tom was killed instantly and Ray was shot in the stomach. This being long before

body armor. Ray still managed to shoot and wound the gunman who was arrested hiding nearby. He was later executed on May 13, 1960.

They did things differently then, I have replayed that late night jail conversation over and over in my mind. Ray retired with his wounds and both received the medal of valor. I just read recently where Ray Jr. retired from the LAPD. He carried his father’s badge while on the job.

Something else I think about in the wee hours of the morning. Tom Scebbi will always be 24.

The Call Box

The Call Box: There Will Be Blood



By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD


It was either 1960 or 61 when my partner, Frank Isbell and I caught the dream job for the summer: we were assigned to work the night watch at Dockweiler State Beach. It was at the very end of Imperial Highway where it crossed a quiet frontage road just south of L.A.X. As you crossed the road you continued on to a huge man-made berm or bluff which over looked the beach and ocean. It was strictly a picnic area as there were a hundred or more large concrete fire rings on the beach. Where you drove into the area, on this bluff was a fairly good-sized building with glass all around. This was the H.Q. for the people who ran the parking lots/the lifeguards and us, the police. From this bluff you had a commanding view of the entire area.

The assignment was really a piece of cake as the beach attracted mostly family or church or school groups all usually well behaved. We had a Jeep donated by the lifeguard service to drive the beach area which aside from the fire rings consisted of a paved parking lot. Crowds usually numbered in the hundreds and as previously stated was family oriented—with some exceptions. We usually drove the area slowly to ”show the flag” as they say. Then up top to drink coffee and watch with binoculars. At closing time, nine or ten p.m., they would blink the parking lot lights. Families would begin packing up to leave and all would be gone on time.

Not this night. As the last of the families drove away, we noticed two males still on the beach—drinking, a no-no. We blinked the lights again and used the ”bull horn” to advise them to leave.

In a very loud voice the pair told us to commit a lewd act upon ourselves. Not very polite. They were advised the gates would be locked in five minutes and they and their vehicle would spend the night (a bluff, of course). A few minutes we heard breaking glass. Looking through the binocs, we saw them taking glass bottles from the trash and breaking them on the parking lot. Bad language is one thing; this could not pass. This was our house and you don’t act like that in our house.

We stopped them at the gate and they were escorted back to the parking lot and told to pick up every piece of glass.

One of them said, “But officer, we are barefooted.”

Frank and I replied as one, ”We noticed, now get busy.” There were no brooms available, dustpans nor anything to carry the glass but their hands and arms.

Twenty minutes later, we were satisfied and they were released. There were bloody footprints everywhere and it looked like some crazy crime scene.

I can just imagine the consequences if we did that today. God help me, I loved the job.

The Call Box

The Call Box: Perceptions

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Perception—an interesting word as any police officer will tell you. The luxury of calm reflection is not always possible. Too often, it is “act and react.” What you think you see and hear is not always what you get. With that in mind, I give you—

The Screaming Woman

I was a uniformed sergeant assigned to the 77th Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. It is a high crime area of South LA. I am working the night watch and am in my black and white patrol car parked on a nearly deserted restaurant parking lot on Manchester Boulevard, a main thoroughfare. Parked next to me, driver door to driver door is a uniformed traffic sergeant we will call, “Rudy.”

We are having a conversation about who knows what. It is late and quiet, the streets are empty. A speeder goes by eastbound toward the freeway. Rudy later guestimated his speed at 75 mph plus. Tally ho and away goes Rudy with me right behind. It took several miles but Rudy “lit him up” and the car pulled over immediately.

Rudy stopped directly to his rear with me behind. We are both out and up toward the driver’s side. As Rudy gets to the front of his patrol car, the sound of a woman screaming takes him to the passenger side of the speeder’s vehicle.                                      

As I get to the left rear, the driver jumps out screaming something I can’t understand. He’s flailing his arms while running toward me. He tries to push past me to follow Rudy. I can’t allow that, so I grab his right shoulder but he spins out of my grip. I grab him again and he turns to face me screaming unintelligibly while still flailing. Even though smaller, he was very strong and determined to get by.

As a police officer, I carried a “sap” or blackjack. It was now in my hand and I smacked him behind his left hear. He went down like he’d been shot, first to his knees, then fell on his face.

I then approached Rudy. “What have we got?”

“She’s having a baby and it’s coming right now. Call for a G-unit (ambulance).”

Which I did.


The baby, however, would not wait and Rudy delivered while I assisted mostly by giving unneeded advice. The entire time, while waiting for the ambulance, all I could think was, “I cold-cocked daddy.” How do I explain that?

When the ambulance arrived, the too charge, pronouncing mother and child in good condition. They revived “daddy” and treated the lump on his head. As soon as he found out momma and baby were fine, he actually apologized for “making me hit him.” He had been screaming in Romanian or Lithuanian—he was so excited, he forgot to speak English.

A big relief.

Nowadays there would be a major investigation of “use of force” with statements, photos, deposition and on and on—

Mine was handled by a line in my log: “Assisted 12TL30 with birthing a baby.”



The Call Box

The Call Box: My Short Kidnapping Career

Part 2 of 2

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

As I was formulating my plans I couldn’t help but think of “the Fortress” as I had called it. It was that in every sense of the word. It took up and entire city block and stood there looking like “Half Dome” at Yosemite. It was imposing, formidable, and let’s add insurmountable. We will see about that.

Before the day was out, I acquired a photo copy of a Times employee’s pass, which now bore my photo and the name, George Hearst—Patty’s father and Chandler’s major rival as the editor of the Examiner. I figured if I was captured, it would really piss them off.

I called in two of my teams and laid out the plan. Team one, “The Suits,” would try to talk their way in or if unable to do that, enter however they could. Team two, “The Window Washers,” would brazen their way in. I would bluff my way through Security. We would try to get close enough to touch Chandler and tell him he “had been taken.”

The next morning—in a suit, of course—and carrying a folder stenciled in large letters, “LA Times London Bureau—” Now let me pause here for a moment. As any cop can tell you, an air of confidence is all important, especially when you are going somewhere you shouldn’t or that has been denied to you. You cannon, repeat, cannot be hesitant or timid but must act with authority. Maybe even a bit of arrogance and superiority. “Stand back, I’m coming through and don’t even think of questioning me.”

Which is exactly what I did, flashing my “ID” while talking to the person next to me as though we were old friends.

So far, so good. I’m on the elevator but the floors are not marked. I don’t know where Notions or Lingerie is but I’m willing to bet the boss man has a top floor corner office.

The top floor is executive country. There is a receptionist in the hall as I exit but I ignore her and turn toward the northwest corner. Anything on the south would overlook a poorer section of downtown. Northeast is China Town but northwest is Civic Center.

Yeah, there it is. Outer over-sized door open to the hall with a tough looking old biddy guarding Chandler’s closed office door.

So far, so good—again. Courage, my boy. Breeze right past her with “He’s expecting me.” I opened his office door, entered. Even though it is the largest, fanciest office I have ever seen, he is not there.

All right, now quickly, plan B. Plan B? I barely had a plan A. And then to save the day, at that moment, Otis Chandler walked in not 10 seconds behind me with the biddy trying to explain who I was—followed by my window washers carrying a step ladder and bucket. Just like we planned. Yeah—I touched his shoulder.

I introduced myself and the team. Gave him the chief’s regards and informed him he was kidnapped, assassinated or whatever. He tried to talk but just stammered and sputtered, which I took as “Well played, lads. Give the Chief my best. Tell him he was right as usual and fortunate to have such clever and ingenious chaps such as yourselves working for him. Jolly good show.” Or at least, that’s what I thought he would have said if he could talk.

Back at the office, we laughed as we recounted what happened. “The Suits” were stopped at several points but then went to the loading dock and got in there. They got to the office about 2-3 minutes after we left. The “window washers” just walked in. Nobody even looked at them.

I discovered there was no official form to cover “the kidnapping of a newspaper publisher by police personnel.” One sheet of paper, single spaced, no embellishment to tell what we did, phony ID attached and I gave it to the captain. I came back from the chief several days later with one word in the upper right corner—“Wow.”


Speaking of kidnapping, “Intent to Hold” is an element of kidnapping which is the primary crime in my second novel Intent to Hold. Click on the link to check out the sample on


The Call Box

The Call Box: My Short Kidnapping Career

By Ed Meckle, retired LAPD

The 1970’s were known as the “Golden Age of Terrorism” even more so than today. With 9840 incidents with 7000 dead worldwide, the responsibles were the Black Guerrilla Army, Black September, Red Army, Irish Republican Army, Symbionese Liberation Army and on and on.


It’s 1974 in LA and the Patty Hearst media frenzy is in full swing: where is she? She is here, she is there, she is everywhere, she is nowhere. She has become “Tania” posing with the seven-headed cobra.


Except for an aborted attempt by mobster Mickey Cohen to run a con on the Hearst Family, we have managed to stay away from the circus—until now.


“We” are the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) of the Los Angeles Police Department. I have been assigned here since 1969. I am a lieutenant in my 18th year with the department. It is a very good assignment. No—actually, it is a great assignment and I not only love it, but I am very good at what I do.

My immediate boss is Captain Don E. Miller. He is serious, smart and pretty much by the book. I am now standing in front of his desk as he utters thes seven words, “They want you to kidnap Otis Chandler.”


I am seldom at a loss for words but managed, “Who is ‘they’?”


“They,” it turned out, is Ed Davis, the Chief of Police. During a “working lunch” with Otis Chandler and their respective staffs, the subject of Patty Hearst’s kidnapping, terrorism, assassination, etc. came up and Davis warned Chandler he could be a likely target. Chandler wouldn’t hear of it and boasted of his security at the Times Building.


I now assumed that Davis wanted to prove him wrong and assert “bragging rights.”


Let me explain who Otis Chandler is: since 1960 he has been the publisher of the LA Times, with the largest circulation west of the Mississippi. He is also one of the most powerful men on the west coast.

I asked, “Does the chief want me/us to get inside the fortress (Times Building), find and confront Chandler and do a “Gotcha?”


“Yes, and you can’t use police ID. Also, can you do it tomorrow?”


For some strange reason, the motto of the Seabees came to mind, “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”


As I sat at my desk I formulated a ridiculous plan that just might work.


More to follow—


The Call Box

The Callbox: Sully, a Real Friend

By Ed Meckle

Ed is a new contributor to Just the Facts, Ma’am. Here he describes himself. His stories are not to be missed.

I am a member of the “Old Centurion” Lunch and True Tales Bunch. Hal Collier moderates and we are only one of fifty plus LAPD retired groups that meet around the country to renew friendships and share experiences. There is a topic of the month wherein we share stories of said topics such as Bizarre, Funny, etc. This month’s topic was “Use of Force.”

Inasmuch as my time on the job was from an earlier era     [2-1-56 TO  10-1-76] stories might just be from a different perspective. I have lots of tales to tell.


Let us first examine the meaning of the word “friend:”

Someone who is 100% honest with you. Ok

Sticks by your side, no matter what. Also ok

Someone you can trust in the time of need. Another big ok

There when glad-handers and pretenders are long gone

Let’s not forget the “frenemies” who tell you one thing but secretly gloat when you fall. They are there for their own good. The old saying goes, “A mouthful of howdy and a handful of gimmie”

That being said, on with your tale. Let’s start by tell you Sully was a really good police man/detective. He was smart, intuitive and funny, but looked at life at an angle. He marched to the beat of a drummer only he could hear. And not only thought “outside the box,” he didn’t even know there was a box. Great practical joker. He was a first rate interrogator, saw things that others didn’t and was one of the clumsiest people I ever knew. I never saw him angry and never heard him raise his voice. Calm cool and collected, as they say.

I first met him in 1958. My first night on vice, prowling a dark alley, we surprised the lookout for an illegal gaming operation. While speaking to him in a low voice, he had him undress, coat shirt, pants and shoes all went over the fence into someone’s back yard. It was a cold night and while the lookout stood shivering, Sully said, “You are not going to tell them we are here, correct?”

That said, we raided the house. All the while, I was convinced my career as a policeman was over and I was probably going to a Turkish prison.

I didn’t, it had only just begun—


A glimpse of Sully standing on the sidewalk in front of a bank:

A “211 (armed robbery) had just happened and the manager told him, “You just missed him by minutes.”


Sully looked left for a long moment, then right and told his partner who was putting out the broadcast, “Come on. I know where he is.”


Six doors away they found him in a cocktail lounge. When asked, Sully said, “The manager described him as calm, almost cocky. There is very little pedestrian traffic, no street parking and the bank is in the middle of a long block. I figured he was going to hunker down and outwait us.”


When I later returned form court and walked into the squad room, I saw a stranger on the typewriter. I gave Sully the “What???” look and he said, That’s my bank robber. I’m dictating and he is doing his own arrest report. Can that guy type or what?”


That was Sully.


Practical joke:

Someone set off a firecracker behind the elderly lieutenant who was inspecting firearms. For a few seconds, he was convinced he had shot one of his own men.




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